I have post on the Autism Speaks blog today: Can You Appreciate My Son's Successes? The essay will be a familiar to you, even if you've only been reading this blog for a short while, as it's a rewrite of the I Wonder if You Can Really See My Son post.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, the fact that I posted at Autism Speaks may shock you -- but not if you've been paying attention lately, and have been reading my articles on BlogHer as well. Last month, I had this to say about my evolving attitude towards Autism Speaks:
Autism Speaks is a controversial organization. They have angered and alienated many members of the autism community. But they are also powerful, entrenched, and well-funded. So, instead of waging war against Autism Speaks, "free range Aspergian" and Look Me in the Eye author John Elder Robison decided to join their board so he could effect change from within:
"There may not seem to be much common ground between the extremes of neurodiversity and those who seek a cure, but I’ll find what there is and try to build more. I hope everyone can see the potential if we can all rally together in pursuit of a common goal."We've already seen results: Autism Speaks now funds one of my favorite autism community endeavors: Alex Plank's WrongPlanet.net YouTube channel. I can't wait to see what else Mr. Robison helps bring about.
My Autism Speaks article about Leo is not about changing him, or curing him, or seeing past him towards his future -- it is about appreciating him and all his hard work, right at this very moment. I hope that our cheerleading for Leo reaches parents and relatives who haven't encountered loving, accepting attitudes. Autism Speaks recognizes the need for more such positive advocacy, and I am grateful to them for posting my essay (as I am to Jess for orchestrating AS's republish request).
We need more bridges built in our community, but that doesn't mean we need to compromise our beliefs along the way. It makes sense to work with Autism Speaks to spread messages that benefit our entire autism community, just as it makes sense to question them if they misstep.
We need to think big picture. I've been saying that a lot lately. It's why we featured a post on by Holly Robinson Peete on The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, on autism issues the media continues to overlook. In her essay, Holly spoke about later autism diagnoses among minority children, puberty, adult autistic self-advocacy, etc., -- all issues that need more support, and open discussions. Mentioning her shared concerns with Jenny McCarthy makes Holly's article even more compelling -- she's in no way dissing Ms. McCarthy, but she's pointing out that -- when it comes to our autism community's needs, we need to think bigger, think harder, think more inclusively. We need to try to come together.